The fact that Wacs received military training at all was a departure from the precedent of the Army Nurse Corps, which at the time of the WAAC's establishment did not give any such orientation to new members.1   In Director Hobby's opinion, the training needs of Wacs were simple: a brief basic military course to inculcate Army customs and discipline more quickly and efficiently than these could be acquired on the job, plus specialist training only for those few women who could not fill an Army job without it. The majority of Wacs, like nurses, possessed a civilian skill that required little modification to be of use to the Army.2

General Marshall's original decision to employ womanpower had been strongly influenced by this factor, since a woman with civilian clerical skill could be trained and placed on the job within a month, as against the six months or more required to train a man lacking this civilian skill. This departure from the Army's length of training was affirmed in the WAAC legislation, which stated the Corps' intent to make available to the Army the already-existing "knowledge, skills, and special training of the women of the nation."

From the time of the disbandment of General Faith's Training Command, shortly after the conversion period, responsibility for WAC training rested with the Director of Military Training, Army Service Forces. The WAC representative in this office was Maj. Elizabeth C. Smith, formerly a member of General Faith's staff. Military Training Division's responsibilities to the WAC extended to three major fields: the supervision of WAC training centers, the arrangements for coeducational specialist training at Army schools, and the training of units in the field.3

WAC Training Centers

Of these, the largest responsibility concerned the WAC training system. Even after the bestowal of Army status, recruits for Air, Ground, and Service Forces continued to be trained on ASF installations, although some division of this authority had been contemplated by the AAF had the number of trainees warranted. Instead, the failure of expansion plans made further reduction a necessity. At the peak of the expansion plans there were five training centers, six separate administrative schools, and two radio schools. These, with the failure of expansion plans, had four times as much cadre as trainees; the WAC at one time had 148 percent overhead as against the average of 30 percent in male replacement training centers.


Reluctantly, steps were taken to close out the additional training centers and specialist schools, which had just been so painfully established. One staff member reported, "At first we were frantic because we didn't have enough cadre to take care of the trainees, and now we didn't know what to do with the cadre.4  For a time the schools were held intact, and instructors and cadre sat idle, while still-hopeful planners informed them, "If we send overhead personnel to the field, when recruiting picks up again we will have to start all over in the Training Centers.5

The first to go was the Fifth WAAC Training Center, with its three prisoner-of war camps in Arkansas and Louisiana. By June of 1943 the Army in North Africa had taken sufficient prisoners to require the housing. When the Provost Marshal General requested the return of this establishment, the WAAC relinquished it without reluctance. The Fifth Training Center had lasted for three months.6

Next to close was the Fourth WAAC Training Center, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, which had opened in March of 1943. After a hectic six months during which it had four different Army commandants, it was ordered to close in mid August.7

Next, the various separate specialist schools-administrative, radio, and signal-faded from the scene. The three remaining training centers were able to train all specialists except for small numbers in radio and other highly technical training, who could be accommodated in Army schools on a coeducational basis.

When the last proposals for draft legislation were shelved, Director Hobby recommended to General Somervell that the remains of the Second WAC Training Center, at Daytona, be closed, that all remaining specialist schools be closed and their functions consolidated at training centers, and that all leased buildings at Des Moines be given up. This view was endorsed, with some emphasis, by General Gasser of the War Department Manpower Board.8

By March of 1944 only the First and Third WAC Training Centers survived, at Fort Des Moines and Fort Oglethorpe respectively. Until after the victory over Japan, the First WAC Training Center was commanded by Col. Frank U. McCoskrie. The Third had a succession of Army commandants, replaced in April of 1944 by Lt. Col. Elizabeth H. Strayhorn, the only woman officer to serve in the capacity of training center commandant.

As Class I installations of a service command, these centers were under the Seventh and Fourth Service Commands respectively. All matters of command, supply, and personnel were prerogatives of the service command and did not come to the attention of Washington agencies except upon inspection or investigation of complaints. Neither the training centers nor their service commands had any control over the content of the course of study, which was prescribed by Military Training Division of the Army Service Forces. Gen-


PROCESSING AT TRAINING CENTERS. Trainees receive a throat check at Fort Des Moines.

PROCESSING AT TRAINING CENTERS. Trainees receive a throat check at Fort Des Moines, above. Below, new recruits are given a clothing issue at the warehouse, Daytona Beach.

PROCESSING AT TRAINING CENTERS. New recruits are given a clothing issue at the warehouse, Daytona Beach.


eral policy supervision in training matters was exercised by G-3 Division of the General Staff, but since courses of study were considered routine operating matters, they did not often come to the attention of that level, or require the approval of either G-3 or the Director WAC.9

Basic Military Training Courses

WAC training centers had at various times from four to six weeks in which to accomplish their mission of transforming a civilian woman into "a physically fit, psychologically well-adjusted, well-disciplined soldier who was informed of the duties, responsibilities, and privileges of women in the Army." 10  This was of course a shorter time than that required to train a man, who had to be prepared also for combat.

The WAC recruit upon arrival at a WAC training center was met by Army trucks, to and from which she carried her own luggage like other recruits. Most commandants insisted upon personally meeting as many incoming shipments as possible, or later talked informally to each company. Recruits straggled in all week from recruiting stations all over the nation, and were grouped into basic classes that began weekly.

WAC training centers, unlike men's, faced the problem of processing these women, issuing clothing, accomplishing immunization, and providing orientation. For men, these functions were generally performed at reception centers, of which there were none for women because of the Corps' small size. After a few hectic classes in which the entire basic course was disrupted by such matters as uniform fittings, illness from shots, and visits to classification offices, the training centers solved the problem by activating reception and staging companies or battalions, which received the women and completed their processing in the first week, before turning them over to a basic company. Colonel McCoskrie, later noted, "Nearly every Personnel Board visiting this station demanded justification of this organization. Few realized that all of the normal Reception Center processing had to be done somewhere." 11

For a time the women waiting in the reception battalion appeared to authorities to be ideal candidates for the omnipresent classroom-scrubbing and kitchen police duties, but it was eventually realized that such an abrupt greeting paid poor dividends in the individual's attitude toward the Army, and in the public's opinion. Thereafter such duties were instead given so far as possible to those who had completed training and were awaiting shipment. The weekly strain of receiving new, bewildered, and questioning recruits soon told upon most reception company cadre, and Colonel McCoskrie insisted that insofar as possible "only personnel genuinely interested in people, who have patience and sympathy, tempered with good judgment, should ever be used in connection with either Receiving or Staging." 12

Although basic companies at times were housed in everything from hotels to tents, the average and the most effective housing proved to be the standard company unit with a central building for orderly room, supply, and dayroom, and a separate barracks for each of the three platoons. Most training authorities agreed that it was better for morale and scheduling to avoid


huge consolidated facilities and to have separate buildings assigned to each company, and a small separate mess to each one or two companies.13

Basic Course Content

There was never any division of opinion among WAC authorities as to the proper minimum course content in basic training, as all agreed that noncombat courses exactly like those used in the first weeks of men's training most quickly oriented women to the Army situation and gave them a common background of experience, even though having little connection with most WAC jobs. The first WAAC basic training program, as devised in Auxiliary days by Colonel Faith, followed quite closely the first four weeks of the men's basic course. The usual subjects were included: military courtesy, Articles of War, Army organization, drill, and so on. Waacs had a somewhat easier training day: for some 91 hours of combat courses there were substituted 20 hours of the necessary reception and processing, plus courses in current events, map reading, and property responsibility. After completion of the first four weeks, men went on to further basic training prescribed by the different chiefs of services, but women, unless they went to specialist school, were at once assigned to the field.14

In Auxiliary days, minor changes were continually made in the basic program. At Director Hobby's instigation, there began a major trend in the direction of the adaptation of the course to feminine needs. It was directed that Colonel Faith "keep and stress those subjects which make a definite contribution to the production of women soldiers [and] make all courses deal with practical problems to the greatest possible extent.15

This trend continued for the next ten months, until the end of the WAAC. General Faith, while retaining all noncombat courses given to men, was able under a heavier work week to add a number of courses expected to be of interest to women: Army Administration, dealing with required reports and correspondence; Army Mess, dealing with mess supplies and reports; and Explanation of the Allied Cause. Also, the unfortunate drop in the AGCT level of WAAC recruits early in 1943 for a time required a longer initial indoctrination course to explain Army rules and procedures and the importance of personal hygiene. By August of 1943 these various additions forced extension of the course from four to five weeks. 16

The trend toward addition of practical courses was abruptly arrested with the end of the WAAC, when control of the training program passed from General Faith to Military Training Division. At this time Director Hobby forwarded to the Director of Military Training a summary of General Faith's conclusions, notably that WAC basic training might be accomplished in four weeks for normal individuals if it consisted primarily of

. . . those developments essential to the performance of military duty which women may be called upon to perform, and those soldierly qualities that distinguish the trained from the untrained enlisted woman . . . . The true objectives of training are factors of growth


and development rather than bodies of subject matter to be mastered.17

Some six months later the basic course was revised by Military Training Division, and a copy sent to Colonel Hobby with the note that it was now "in conformity with basic training of male personnel.18  To achieve this conformity, the WAC basic training period was extended to six weeks, or 288 hours, the exact equal of the men's course, in "an effort to insure that WAC personnel had training comparable to that given enlisted men.19

Since 153 of the men's 288 hours were devoted to combat subjects, retention of the WAC basics for an equal six weeks allowed a considerable increase in available time. To utilize this time, most courses were increased in length. Wacs now received about five times as much instruction as men in the organization of the Army, four times as much in military courtesy and the Articles of War, three times as much in safety measures, sanitation, social hygiene, first aid, and inspections. Women also got one third again as much drill and physical training as men.20

This additional two weeks' extension of the course was never generally agreeable to Army personnel officers. Inasmuch as the educational and aptitude level of enlisted women remained considerably above that of the Army as a whole, their need for more training in basic subjects than men received was questioned. Although the number of weeks involved appeared insignificant, it amounted to a perceptible number of workdays lost to Army stations in the field. Thus, for each WAC unit so detained, the loss caused by the new policy was 4,500 man-days of work; for the Wacs trained from this time onward, the loss was about 1,000,000 man-days.

However, training center medical officers expressed a belief that the extra two weeks would have been justified if the hours that men spent on combat subjects had been used for new courses of comparable value to women, particularly those concerned with mental health, conduct, character, and adjustment to military life. Major Preston of the Consultation Service noted, "The chief defect in the training of women was that . . . apparently no effort was made to adapt the training to their probable needs in the Army.21  Finally, at the insistence of medical officers, two hours of mental hygiene were included "to assist women in their adjustment to Army life and to relieve tension caused by uncertainty in the beginning of the training period.22  This two-hour course was the only one, among the 288 basic hours, ever added by Military Training Division to the usual subjects for men.

Although most other courses were, on paper, identical for men and women, it was the Army practice to give different practical application in the different branches of service. Surviving studies did not indicate to what extent, if any, such practical application was found possible for women. The only course that appeared to be materially altered was that on social hygiene, variously called personal hygiene, sex hygiene, and preventive hygiene. Here, the Army Service Forces approved continuation of the WAAC course, and like-


CHEMICAL WARFARE TRAINING. Women remove their gas masks before leaving the chamber, as ordered, thus experiencing the effects of tear gas.

CHEMICAL WARFARE TRAINING. Women remove their gas masks before leaving the chamber, as ordered, thus experiencing the effects of tear gas.


wise sponsored one of the only two training films produced especially for Wacs -Strictly Personal- which was not issued until 1945.23

In the subject of military courtesy, Director Hobby recommended development of lectures on "manners for military women," which would give Wacs detailed instructions on how to make the best impression in many specific places where female conduct was the subject of particular comment-trains, hotels, clubs, and public dining places. However, Military Training Division, after a study, concluded that "differences [from men] were so slight that the establishment of new doctrine was unnecessary.24  Colonel Hobby also requested that this course devote more time to explanation of officer-enlisted relationships, which were a source of particular annoyance to Army commands where they concerned personnel of opposite sexes. Military Training Division replied that such training was not needed and that the regular men's course, concerning the relationships between members of the same sex, "is considered to be sufficient.25

The course on care of clothing and equipment was of necessity different concerning some of the items to be arranged and cared for, but otherwise was the same except that "instruction in hair dressing and proper application of cosmetics was presented by demonstrations." The course on interior guard duty differed only in that Wacs were not armed and were required to perform tours of daylight guard duty only. Close order drill likewise differed only in that Wacs were not armed.26

For all other courses, basic instructors were without the advantage of being able to pretend that the courses had any practical future usefulness for women. Instructors in map reading could preface courses with "Now, if you were ever separated from your companions in an enemy-occupied area, and had a map and a compass . . . ," but it was well known that no Wacs during the entire war had ever found themselves in such a predicament. Similarly, it was ordinarily impossible to personalize the studies of chemical warfare, aircraft recognition, field messing, emergency first aid, or even drill, which most Wacs seldom used after leaving training centers.

Nevertheless, the more inappropriate a subject was for women, the more most women appeared to enjoy it. Wacs plunged delightedly through gas chambers, viewed with interest films on battlefield first aid, and hiked willingly about the countryside seeking a given point on a map. Drill was a favorite subject. Spectators noted that "Many spent off-duty time in small groups practicing," and those who missed this instruction during the severe winter months at Des Moines felt themselves defrauded. Training authorities also noted that weekly parades and ceremonies of any sort were very popular with trainees, since they "tended to enhance the feeling of belonging to the military team.27

Physical Training

Only one masculine-type course encountered serious objections on the grounds that it might be harmful to women. This was the course in physical education, in which it appeared impossible to please everybody. According to staff


members in Auxiliary days, more time and concern was given to this one course than to any other, with less satisfactory results. Although Wacs did not require hardening for combat, and would perform jobs similar to those they had done in civilian life, some moderate exercise or sports appeared desirable to offset sedentary work.

In determining the necessary measures, the WAC was handicapped by the fact that there apparently flourished in the United States at least two large and mutually hostile schools of physical education, as well as a considerable body of those who felt some antipathy toward any form of required exercise.28

For the first training classes, civilian experts were hired, who set up a course based on Swedish-Danish gymnastics. The student body reaction was generally critical. One school of thought asserted that the exercises were "positively harmful to women over the age of 18," 29  while another-that of a group of former physical education teachers-held that they were not strenuous enough, in that "strength building exercises were not included.30 The latter opinion prevailed when a group of newly commissioned women officers was assigned to revise the course. These officers immediately substituted a program designed to increase the strength of the women, who, they alleged, "are greatly in need of development. This puts a temporary strain on their physiques, but will pay dividends in the future."31 

From this time to the end of the war, the WAC physical training program remained in the hands of WAC physical education experts of the strength-building school, whose chief, Capt. Donna Niles, informed a staff conference, "It is as much a part of our responsibility to keep physically fit as to uphold the Code of Conduct.32  Accordingly, there was produced a WAC physical training manual, which prescribed a warm-up "cadence series" followed by muscle-building "strength progressions" designed to give women strong muscles in arms and shoulders, abdomen, upper back and neck, and legs. "Progressions" started with simple exercises for these areas and worked up to very difficult ones; they were virtually identical with push-ups and other exercises given men. The manual also contained a number of careful photographic illustrations, which for some cause proved extremely popular with male personnel.33

Opinion on the success of the course was as divided as was that of the civilian profession in the United States. Civilian physical educators of the strength-building school highly approved the program. One wrote:

Many of the most prominent women in the physical education profession feel that the WAC has the best physical training program for women of any of the branches of the Armed Forces.34

On the other hand, the nationally prominent women of the WAC's Civilian Advisory Committee recommended that more relaxing sports and recreation be


substituted for the calisthenics, which in their opinion had little practical value and were sometimes damaging to the health of women over 30.35

WAC company officers in the field alleged that exercises were "too strenuous," were less useful for female office workers than ordinary women's sports and recreation would have been, and were at times detrimental to health and job performance.36  ASF investigations of the problem established only that there was no provable connection between muscular "physical fitness," as developed by these exercises, and the type of physical-mental fitness that kept a woman working efficiently at her desk.

The program was eventually discontinued by all Army stations as not worth the time it required, and replaced by group recreation. Military Training Division directed its continuance in WAC training centers, and the discontinuance of required group sports and recreation, which were sometimes considered a substitute. The second of the two WAC training films, Figures Don't Lie, completed in June of 1945, was sponsored to encourage the program. Training centers generally experienced less difficulty with the program than did field stations, since they were able to provide expert instruction to ensure that each woman followed the "progressions" to more difficult exercises only as fast as she could without overexertion.37

Basic Technical Courses

Considerable debate took place concerning the value of sending women for technical training immediately following their basic course. Male ASF units automatically continued in training centers for seven more weeks in various technical specialties, of which cooks', clerks', and drivers' courses were standardized for all branches. The trend of Military Training Division's policy for men was to increase rather than decrease this training time. After complaints that male units with thirteen weeks' total training were still lacking in discipline, sanitary standards, and skills, the ASF lengthened the course to 17 weeks, and later added an additional 13 to 17 weeks of advanced unit training where possible.38  Much of this training concerned the use of weapons, and other combat subjects.

Neither General Marshall nor Director Hobby favored such extended technical training for women if they could fill an Army job without it. General Marshall pronounced it "a waste of time which we didn't have." While the Auxiliary established short technical courses for clerks, cooks, and drivers, most Waacs who could qualify were assigned to field units without further training.39

When WAC training passed to the control of Military Training Division, this trend was reversed in accordance with that division's policy of lengthening training wherever possible. It therefore became the standard practice to route as many Wacs as possible through some specialist course immediately following


basic training, thus requiring retention in the training center for another four to twelve weeks, with an average of eight.

However, the Army Air Forces refused to concur in retention of its recruits, preferring on-the-job training similar to that used for civilian women employees. The retention for an average of eight weeks of technical training cost an additional 9,000 man-days of work for each entire unit so detained. For this reason, the AAF forbade WAC training centers to retain more than 5 percent of its Air WAC recruits-often the majority of trainees-for further training after completion of basic.40

Although the ASF was thereby prevented from sending many AAF Wacs to its courses, more and more of the Service Forces Wacs came to be routed routinely through the basic technical courses at WAC training centers. Until 1945 The Adjutant General retained power to order assignment of trainees at the end of basic training if they were already qualified in skills urgently needed in the field, but at this time Military Training Division at last, after repeated recommendations, secured the power to determine sufficiency of training. Thereafter it refused to release most ASF recruits for assignment until they had received from four to twelve weeks of technical training. This was late in the war, so that actually only 42,000 of the 140,000 Wacs to go through training centers ever received such technical training, at an estimated cost of about 2,000,000 man-days.41

An identical difference of opinion between personnel and training officers existed in the Navy, where training authorities sent even higher percentages of their women to specialists' schools from 70 to 80 percent-over the objections of the Bureau of Naval Personnel:

. . . from an economy viewpoint, the Navy got more use from the girls by sending them as rapidly as possible to the jobs where while learning they were contributing something to the going enterprise rather than just being sent to school.42

Clerks Course

Most important of these basic technical courses was the administrative or clerks course, which Military Training Division adapted from the regular Army one after discarding the shorter WAAC version. Here student clerks became familiar with Army correspondence and filing systems: with regulations, manuals, and other references; with company records and reports; and with the records used in disciplinary procedures, fiscal accounting, and personnel offices. These subjects were made as practical as possible, although this was difficult in view of the fact that few field commands used identical systems. Material was deliberately chosen that did not concern the WAC. Thus, Wacs practiced activating and managing an infantry company, and studied Army organization and chain of command with relation to groups, armies, divisions, regiments, and battalions. The Army Ground Forces systems were used in exercises in personnel accounting. Although the practical usefulness of this appeared doubtful to trainees, 97 percent of whom would not be assigned to the AGF, WAC instructors nevertheless succeeded in arousing interest by the use of many ingenious training aids and mock-up rooms, in which Wacs acted out


the parts of cadre for combat infantry companies.43

No records were retained of the total number of Wacs who attended clerks courses, although records of individual classes indicated that this might have been around 300 monthly-possibly one tenth of the month's basic graduates. No comparative studies were made that would conclusively determine the relative success of the school-trained and the job-trained WAC clerks. The Consultation Service at Des Moines noted many referrals from this group, and observed:

There were numerous psychological handicaps to the training: The attitude that attendance was an unnecessary delay from a field assignment; many women enlisted to avoid the monotony of their civilian stenographic jobs . . . women already trained as stenographers were required to complete the same course as those inexperienced. This.. . could have been avoided by early and consistent motivation for Clerks training and . . . by separation of the training groups.44

Typing Course

Less difference of opinion existed concerning the four-week typing course, which was given independently to Air Forces recruits, and as part of the clerks course for others. This consisted chiefly of 80 hours of touch-typing, a subject which seemed universally useful to Wacs, but which could not be given prior to the summer of 1943 because of the inability of training centers to obtain typewriters. The subject proved more and more essential as skilled women became harder to recruit and as Army requisitions for WAC typists grew heavier; it was approved even by the AAF for those of its nontyping recruits who showed clerical aptitude. It was admittedly impossible in 80 hours to bring a beginner to the expert typist speed of 45 words per minute, but the course succeeded in teaching beginners a speed sufficient for typing cards and other records18 words per minute-as well as increasing by almost the same amount the typing speed of women who could already type to some extent.

WAC instructors who had formerly operated civilian typing schools considered the concentrated military course more successful than most civilian courses, even though it was handicapped by inadequate equipment, by the frequent absence of trainees for kitchen police, by assignment of inept beginners, and by the mixture in one class of women with typing speeds ranging from 0 to 76 words per minute. Nevertheless, instructors stated:

. . . training classes had distinct advantages over civilian teaching: there were no discipline problems; the instructor had the stimulation which comes from teaching mature women conscious of the urgency of the job and . . . the women applied themselves with a zeal rarely seen in civilian classes.45

Cooks Course

Training center authorities noted that "assignment to the Cooks' Course was not popular with the trainees except in isolated instances." 46  Women regarded the assignment as menial; many women who had previous cooking or dietary experience had enlisted to escape from their occupation. High sick call rates and minor psy-


chiatric casualties resulted. WAC instructors were of the opinion that many women actually liked to cook but resented the low social status and lack of advancement, and the fact that training center officers at times employed enlisted specialists for food service at officers' off-duty social affairs.47

Instructors were unable to discover any easy rule for selecting successful WAC cooks. Some civilian cooks made good Army cooks, and some did not, while many women with no previous experience proved very efficient. Former restaurant cooks were usually more of a problem than beginners, since they had to forget previous work habits and learn new ideas of orderliness and cleanliness. Women with college training in home economics were likewise found to have "very little knowledge of cooking," although assignable elsewhere as experts in some specialized dietary field.

School authorities also lamented the tendency of assignment officers to consider the cooks course a haven for women of low aptitude. These, although assigned in large numbers, could seldom be made into satisfactory cooks. In addition, their presence lent the course a certain stigma which made it unpopular with more capable women, as reflected in a favorite song:

I am the girl with the low I.Q.
I can prepare a good menu
But you do not need brains to make a stew
So I'll be at home on the range.48

As a matter of fact, women with low ACCT scores seldom could qualify as cook, baker, or mess sergeant, which in an Army mess demanded considerable alertness.

In 1944, the WAC cooks course was lengthened by Military Training Division from the six weeks used in Auxiliary days to the eight weeks needed for men. Most "instruction," as in men's schools, consisted in preparation of food for training center messes; this was supplemented, between meals, by lectures and demonstrations in the mess halls. Army films and film strips were found valuable, although not all were suitable for the smaller scale of operation of WAC unit messes.49

Motor Vehicle Operators Course

Most popular of the technical courses offered at WAC training centers was drivers' training, although, because of the relatively smaller demand for WAC drivers, only 3,000 women were ever trained at Fort Des Moines, and lesser numbers at other centers. The original six-week Auxiliary course was lengthened to the men's eight-week course by Military Training Division.

It was reported that "devices for driver selection and methods of instruction were substantially the same as those used throughout the Army." 50  The course included not only vehicle operation, but first and second echelon maintenance, repair and lubrication, convoy operation, vehicle recovery, blackout driving, and motor pool administration. Maintenance above the second echelon was not given Wacs, although a third-echelon course had been prepared before recruiting difficulties ended possibilities of replacing many men in such work.


MEMBER OF THE COOKS COURSE prepares cake batter in a training center mess hall, January 1943.

MEMBER OF THE COOKS COURSE prepares cake batter in a training center mess hall, January 1943.


Student drivers were supposed to score at least a Grade III (average) in general aptitude, and motor transport instructors reported:

. . . difficulty was experienced all through the history of Motor Transport in the effort to establish the fact that people with low AGCT scores would not make dependable drivers. Hardly any Army job calls for quicker thinking, more instantaneous adjustments, cooler nerves-yet the section was sent grade IV's and V's.51

From the beginning the course operated successfully in spite of this and other handicaps. Training aids could seldom be obtained, but many ingenious ones were constructed by the faculty. The Fort Des Moines school reported that, since engines for instruction were not issued it, several were "assembled in their entirety from miscellaneous parts retrieved from the dump, salvage, or other unidentified sources."

WAC instructors went to the Army school at Camp Holabird, and took over all teaching almost immediately. WAC trainees felt themselves handicapped by lack of a proper uniform for women. The WAC chief of the motor transport school went in person to Washington to plead with ASF for ordinary slacks and shirts in summer, and lined trousers and flannel shirts in winter, as well as a brimless cap that would not blow off. She received promises of such items, but reported later that "nothing was ever realized from such promises."52  The appearance of women drivers in their clumsy and unbecoming coveralls led, in training authorities' opinions, to "the development of marked masculine traits and unwarranted criticism of the women drivers because of their masculine uniforms, appearance, and mannerisms.53

All of the men's motor transport courses appeared useful and practical to the Wacs with the exception of those on blackout driving and decontamination of gassed vehicles, which hours could, they felt, have been better spent on other subjects. Nevertheless, women were found to be not averse to driving the most inappropriate vehicles they could obtain, including Army tanks. They also enjoyed "bug hunting" in the engine laboratory, assembly of dismantled engines, convoy driving, and the recovery of mired vehicles; even Des Moines' icy winters were approved for providing the opportunity to rescue stalled trucks.

Contrary to pessimistic expectations, the Des Moines motor transport students drove 1,500,000 miles without a traffic accident; and were awarded a safety plaque by grateful Des Moines citizens. This course was called by the Consultation Service:

. . one of the most satisfactory basic technical training schools, and the one which was most desired among trainees of all degrees of intelligence and all variety of occupations .... The low sick call rate, the minimum psychiatric referrals, the lack of serious menstrual difficulties and of fatigue . . . illustrates the advantage of assignments fulfilling motivation for enlistment.54

Medical Technicians gaining

For a brief period in 1945 there existed at Fort Oglethorpe the fourth and last type of basic technical course to be given at WAC training centers: that for medical


MOTOR TRANSPORT TRAINING. Students standing information alongside reconnaissance command cars, -ton pick-up trucks, and carryall trucks.

MOTOR TRANSPORT TRAINING. Students standing information alongside reconnaissance command cars, -ton pick-up trucks, and carryall trucks.

and surgical technicians and medical clerks. Wacs had long received such training on a coeducational basis at Army medical schools, where they had completed men's courses successfully. The WAC course was merely a transplantation of these courses to Fort Oglethorpe in order to instruct centrally the thousands of recruits obtained by the General Hospital Campaign in the spring of 1945.

At the instigation of the War Department, and because of the immediate need for technicians, Military Training Division in this one instance reversed its usual policy and shortened rather than lengthened the training time. Basic training was reduced from six to four and a half weeks, and the men's twelve-week medical technicians course was given in six weeks.55  Nevertheless, the training was pronounced highly successful by using agencies, and The Surgeon General informed training authorities that the manner of performance of its graduates was "admirable." 56

Miscellaneous Courses

In addition to the regular basic military training and basic technical courses, WAC training centers from time to time gave various minor courses to meet particular needs or emergencies. Of these, perhaps the most significant were the Opportunity School and its successor, the Special Training Unit. These illustrated again the fact that unskilled women of low aptitude were a particular problem to the Army, especially since they could not be trained for heavy labor as could men in like categories.

Opportunity School

Although recruiting standards recognized this difference and kept the Wac


average intelligence and skill above men's, small but embarrassing numbers of inept women continued to arrive at training centers. Training centers found that such women were literally unassignable to fill any Army requisitions for women. For the first year this misfortune was ignored and the women were shipped out to hapless stations in the field, which quickly protested. Since such women could not ordinarily be discharged under Army Regulations based on men's standards of ineptness, an opportunity school was eventually established at Fort Des Moines, to which field stations were permitted to ship back their unassignables. Some 552 women were shipped back under this authority, about half of whom were Negroes.57

These women spent half a day in formal training and the other half in on-the job training. The formal instruction put great emphasis on military courtesy, drill, and a locally devised course called Manners for Military Women, of which this personnel seemed in visible need. In the apprenticeship period attempts were made to train women as hospital orderlies, messengers, supply clerks, assistant librarians, mimeograph machine operators and in many other jobs.

Under this intensive grooming, 70 percent of the students qualified in various skills, chiefly in hospital work, as mail clerks and orderlies, as machine operators, messengers, photographic technicians, and stock clerks and checkers. Some qualified in even higher specialties, such as radio operator. Under the apprenticeship system of actual training, many reported themselves "crazy about their work.'" and only some 64 women had to be discharged. Nevertheless, an additional and expensive three months beyond basic training, and the help of the most expert instructors and cadre, were required to accomplish this result. The Consultation Service noted that "a number of the women who successfully completed the course required administrative separation at a later date," and concluded that "the results of the school did not justify its existence.58

Special Training Unit

Opportunity School was succeeded, as soon as Military Training Division took control, by the Special Training Unit, which did not attempt to give women usable skills, but merely to assist through basic training those with educational deficiencies.59  The course was exactly like that of men's special training units, except that weapons training was omitted. It emphasized reading, writing, arithmetic and all military subjects, including even tent pitching and knots and lashings.

Since the WAC enlistment standards, unlike the Army's, now included an educational requirement, few Wacs had real educational deficiencies, and much difficulty was experienced when basic companies sent this unit disciplinary problems and maladjusted women who did not lack education. Some 426 women were eventually trained by this unit-a tiny fraction of the Corps, which testified to the average efficiency of recruiters. Of these, some 80 percent were able to return to basic training, but no records of their later assign-ability were maintained. The Consultation Service noted:

The greatest problem of the women with borderline intelligence is their utilization on


jobs. There were never a sufficient number of routine and simple tasks to which these women could be assigned. When assigned to a specialist school or jobs above their intellectual level of comprehension and performance, frequent psychosomatic complaints developed which rendered them unfit for efficient duty or created behavior problems and AWOLS . . . . In a volunteer organization such as the WAC, the problem of women with low intelligence should not exist.60

WAC Officer Candidate School

The WAC officer candidate school continued to specialize in the production of officers for WAC troop administration, since it would have been impossible to duplicate the training of officers in the dozen or more arms and services to which Wac officers might be assigned. The conduct and policy of the WAC officer candidate school were, from the time of the establishment of the WAC, of minor importance to the Corps, since in its entire two years of existence the WAC school was allowed to receive only 750 candidates, in contrast to the 5,675 that had been received in only one year by the WAAC school. Later improvements were therefore of little effect upon Corps leadership. It could be said of the WAC, as of other Army Service Forces officer candidate schools, "It was not until the OCS were considerably past the peak of their greatest usefulness that they reached their highest development as training agencies.61

Actually, in the case of the WAC, there were few noteworthy new developments. The greatest change was in length; as soon as the ASF took charge of the school in 1943, it extended the course from the previous eight weeks to three months, since men's officer candidate courses averaged about this length. Director Hobby's office was not consulted about either the extension or the new curriculum, but was informed of its content.62

The extension to three months made a greatly increased number of hours available, since women could not be given subjects such as weapons training and combat orientation. Most of these extra hours were used on conventional subjects: twice as much time as the Auxiliary had given to map reading, defense against air attack, military courtesy, and physical training; four times as much in medical instruction; live times as much in organization of the army. Several new courses were added: some, like signal communications, because they were required for men, and others, such as duties of a staff officer, in consideration of the wider scope of officer employment in the WAC.

Wacs now received more hours of army organization than The Adjutant General's officer candidates, more mess management than The Quartermaster General's, and more physical training than the Medical Administrative Corps. In general, every noncombat course directed for men's schools was also added to the WAC course, with the sole and inexplicable omission of Defense Against Paratroops. The only courses in the 5713 hours that had no parallel in men's courses were 6 hours devoted to public relations and 5 to recruiting, in


recognition of the fact that the WAC had to recruit instead of draft its personnel.

Courses that aimed at developing leadership and the ability to manage a group were in a minority. Only 79 of the 578 hours could even remotely be considered to fall in this category, and even of these, many were more concerned with teaching the correct paper work than with the psychology of leadership. WAC candidates had more hours in map reading than in duties of an officer; three times as many hours in courts and boards as in leadership; five times as many in drill as in morale.

Consultants at the school observed:
In Officer Candidate Schools, the emphasis on the transmission of information could have been changed to an emphasis on developing the characteristics and attitude of an officer., and thus many of the deficiencies of leadership might have been averted.63

This deficiency was of course not peculiar to WAC schools, and Service Forces historians later noted of men's schools, "The courses most frequently omitted from curricula were those concerned with morale, management, and training of men." 64

There was considerable effort by instructors to make all officer candidate courses practical, but this was seldom possible except in the small group of leadership courses, where lively student discussion of actual problems took place. Material of other subjects was less easy to adapt, typical difficult subjects being organization of the field army and other tactical groups, malaria control, map and compass exercises, radio and pigeon communication, gas identification, camouflage, and others. In some subjects, such as supply, it was found that practical experience was a handicap. In order not to confuse the standard lecture, it was necessary to suppress student discussion of the varying procedures actually used by commands in the field in which many officer candidates had worked as enlisted women.

Instructors' efforts to make courses practical were handicapped also by the fact that most instructors had never been out of the training center, a problem common to other ASF officer candidate schools, of which it was said:

Most of the instructors were recent OCS graduates often totally lacking in field experience . . . . Even those in charge were too often those who had a background of school experience and training instead of service in the field or on-the-job training . . . . Later, when rotation policies were put into effect, . . . policy-making personnel [were seldom replaced].65

Intermediate Officers' School (IOS)

Shortly before the conversion to Army status, Director Hobby attempted to put into effect a plan for improving the standards of WAAC leadership by establishing an advanced officer training school modeled on the British system, to which the most capable officers would be returned for preparation for higher jobs.66  Unfortunately, the Intermediate Officers' School upon establishment coincided with the growth of the officers' pool, and was used to provide occupation for the unassigned pool officers. Attendance at IOS, instead of an honor, therefore came to be considered a blot upon an officer's record. General Faith tried to convince the inmates that instruction such as Advanced


Mapreading was valuable, saying, "Some of our folks are going to far places and you wouldn't get far on the instruction you have previously received in Mapreading." 67  However, as months passed, and the IOS was succeeded by the Advanced IOS and other endless instruction, the training center abandoned all pretense of giving the women any useful training while they waited. Army Service Forces authorities admitted later that the various courses, which were devised to kill time, "produced no significant training result and met no training need," and also that the "inexperience of instructor personnel rendered the training practically valueless." 68

Leadership Courses for Enlisted Women

The absence of a course for the training of enlisted leaders was a serious omission in the opinion of some training center authorities, who believed that the daily adjustments of a member's life were as often in the hands of the company cadre as of the officers. A school to train cadre had not been originally established in the erroneous belief that lower-rating WAAC officer candidates would be used as cadre until their deferred commissioning. When immediate commissions were granted all graduates, the various training centers began belated efforts to set up cadre schools, but these were scattered and un-co-ordinated. Finally, in dune of 1944, AST headquarters directed both men's and WAC training centers to set up such courses.69

By this time only limited progress was possible. Most companies in the field and in the training center already had their cadre, who had too much rank to be reassigned elsewhere. Station-and-job recruits, who constituted the bulk of trainees, could not be withdrawn for these assignments, and the available general service recruits were few and often unqualified. The school therefore, in its fourteen months of existence, produced only 500 graduates, most of whom were used only in training centers.

Nevertheless, training authorities pronounced the course a notable success. Colonel McCoskrie stated that, of all the activities at Fort Des Moines, he was most proud of the development of noncommissioned leaders. Outstanding women to attend this course were selected toward the end of basic training and were referred to the Consultation Service, where they were interviewed by the psychiatrist to determine emotional stability and maturity, and were given personality inventory tests. Selected women were then assigned to training under officers who had demonstrated outstanding leadership. Sleeve and pocket patches marked "Leadership" were worn and proved to be an excellent morale factor in developing pride in the course.

Military Training Division left the curriculum to the training center, and the result was an eight-week course of more practical application than anything else at the center. Although only 12 of the 96 lecture hours concerned leadership, map reading was conspicuously absent, and other courses concerned the everyday cadre duties of administration, supply, drill, and instruction. Two weeks of theory were followed by six weeks of supervised work as acting cadre, with careful plans,


discussions, and critiques. The Consultation Service's psychiatric workers lectured on adjustment problems to be expected in companies, and discussed the individual cases that arose.

The success of the school and its graduates, in the opinion of training center authorities, more than justified its existence. Moreover, officers pointed to the trainees' "marked changes in qualities of leadership" as proof that leadership could actually be taught. Had such a course been perfected before all field units had been shipped out, instead of after, its value to the efficiency of stations in the field apparently would have been considerable.

Testing Procedures

Very few reliable statistics were ever compiled as to the performance of women on Army tests and the applicability of the tests to women. It was the preliminary opinion of The Adjutant General's testing experts that women probably did not score as well on the Army General Classification Test as did men of the same actual intelligence, since the test had been designed for and validated with men. They therefore recommended the use in training centers of the Women's Classification Test (WCT), then used in recruiting stations, which was especially designed for women and on which the scores were slightly higher.

However, the Office of the Director WAC was not able to see any significant injustice to women in the Army test-especially since Wacs were highly selected and most groups exceeded the men's average in spite of any handicap. Had women of all types been drafted as men were, the question might have assumed more importance. The ASF WAC Officer also noted that the ACCT had more significance and was more readily understood by personnel officers on Army stations. The use of the men's AGCT was therefore continued in classification procedures at training centers.

Another test developed for early recruiting-the Mental Alertness Test (MAT) did not correlate too highly with later success. The Clerical Aptitude Test seemed only of moderate value in predicting women's success on clerical jobs; the Radio Operators Aptitude Test was found by training centers to be very poor when applied to women; the Driver Aptitude Test, on the other hand, had high accuracy.70

Evaluation of Effectiveness of Training

Very few field comments of any sort were recorded as to the adequacy or inadequacy of WAC school training. The fact that a Wac had received several times the number of hours in many basic subjects that a man received had practically insured that she would be at least as well indoctrinated. Since a woman's survival in the field did not so visibly depend upon the adequacy of her training as did a combat soldier's, the matter was not in any case unduly conspicuous. Most field commendations concerned merely the women's neatness and military bearing; most complaints related only to administrative matters such as supply, records, and classification.


Concerning the academic courses themselves, the only notable field objection was that they had seldom reflected the experience gained by WAC units at Army stations in the field. As a result of lack of rotation, training center instructors and cadre were generally attempting to prepare recruits for a field service of which they themselves had no knowledge.

Problem of Rotation

The problem of rotation appeared to be even more difficult than that experienced by men's training centers, in that the numbers of WAC field units in the Fourth and Seventh Service Commands were insufficient to manage normal rotation of Wacs from field to training center. When training centers appealed to other commands for an exchange, they discovered with regret that the only ones offered were those who

. . . had not been successful at previous assignments . . . this condition was generally recognized by WAC officers, so that an assignment "back to the Training Center" carried a certain stigma and was dreaded by most officers.71

Training center authorities recommended:
A sound officer rotation policy should contemplate reassignment of old, experienced officers prior to the time that they go stale on the job; this period varies with the individual, generally between 12 and 30 months.72

When visiting instructors could be obtained who illustrated precepts with actual experiences, trainee interest was found to be much stimulated.

There was similarly noted a lack of information in training courses as to the latest War Department directives and policies concerning the WAC, particularly in matters of recruiting. The attenuated channel of communication for training centers led from service command to The Adjutant General to Military Training Division. Somewhere along the line blockage occurred; Colonel Strayhorn was of the opinion that it was "on the Washington level." 73  The WAC was not the only organization to note a lack of liaison between Military Training Division and the chief of an arm or service. For the Judge Advocate General and other services, the view was also expressed that training schools should have been Class 11 installations:

The final responsibility for the competence of the product lay not in the Service Command but at the door of the Chief of Service or Division Director. Direct control over the personnel engaged in this phase of training should have accompanied this responsibility.74

Medical Evaluation

A more serious criticism of the WAC training system was offered early in the spring of 1944 by The Surgeon General, who raised the question of whether the whole system of military training patterned on that for men was too strenuous for women. At this time, a few months before Colonel Strayhorn's appointment at Fort Oglethorpe, the incidence of colds and influenza among women at that installation was almost double that of the Fourth Service Command as a whole.


The Surgeon General reported that both training centers were "noting a high incidence of physical disability" and that 52 percent of all disability discharges that ever occurred in the WAC occurred in the first three months of a recruit's service. Training centers blamed this fact entirely on poor screening by recruiters, but The Surgeon General inclined to the view that some part of the responsibility belonged to the WAC basic training program. Psychiatric problems and questions of mental adjustment were reported by medical inspectors to be frequent at both training centers, and the injury rate was almost double that of men's training centers.

As a result, The Surgeon General undertook a survey called "Study of the WAC Basic Training Program in Relation to the Physical Fitness of Women." Since the WAC admitted women up to 50 years of age, enlisted chiefly for sedentary jobs, it appeared possible that the whole theory of giving women a training course was unsuitable and wasteful of personnel, especially since women did not require hardening for combat.75  At the same time the Fourth Service Command's inspector general made a similar investigation, prompted by complaints from women's relatives and from Congress. As one irate relative put it, "It is the consensus of the civilian population that the basic training given a WAC should be only schooling for a particular job." 76

Director Hobby, while favoring a basic training course, was also inclined to believe that no training should be given which was so strenuous as to cause a breakdown and discharge that the Army job itself would not have caused. In late 1943 she informed Military Training Division that one of the criteria of successful basic training of Wacs should be that "the individual has not become physically unfit for military duty.77

In all of the resulting investigations, reports confirmed the fact that an excessive number of breakdowns had resulted from the training period. On the other hand, there was no evidence that these breakdowns had any provable connection with the noncombat basic training subjects, most of which were not strenuous. Instead, disability was almost invariably traced to administrative practices or conditions not at all intrinsic in the basic course.

Of these, mismanagement of fatigue duties appeared prominent. In some cases the women's "basic training" had apparently consisted less of the prescribed courses than of scrubbing and cleaning the various classrooms and offices of the headquarters, kitchen police in officers', consolidated, and unit messes, furnace firing, window washing, and most of the heavy labor about the training installation. Women had usually proved unsuccessful in permanent assignments to such heavy duties at field stations, and it appeared no reflection upon the academic training that women of 50 previously employed in desk jobs proved unable to complete classwork while carrying the additional load of training center upkeep.

The inspector general reported that no precautions had been taken to keep the length and nature of fatigue duties within a woman's strength. In a typical case a 25hour detail of furnace firing was immediately followed, without time for sleep, by


a 14-hour kitchen police detail during which heavy lifting and scrubbing had been continuous, resulting in hospitalization and discharge of a skilled recruit. As a result, the inspector general recommended that commandants take steps to see that continuous arduous duties were not assigned during the entire fourteen hours of kitchen police, and that the scheduling of fatigue details was done so as to insure rotation from heavier to lighter duties.78

In addition, some of the disability discharges seemed directly traceable to deficiencies in clothing and housing which also had no necessary relation to the basic course as such. At Fort Oglethorpe in January and February of 1944, the inspector general reported that new arrivals had been housed for several days in poorly heated barracks, and had walked through rain and mud to class, mess, and the outside latrines before receiving any issue of protective military clothing and footgear. Even at the end of basic training, the inspector general noted:

A check on one group of 30 recruits showed that no one member had received all the clothing allowed . . . . The supply situation had existed for several months with no apparent attempt by the Commandant to remedy it.79

By contrast, Fort Des Moines, which had steam-heated brick buildings, indoor latrines, and a better-established clothing supply, reported a rate of respiratory disorders only 60 percent of the service command rate, as against twice the service command rate at Fort Oglethorpe. This again offered proof that the military training itself had not caused the excessive illness.

As a result, neither The Inspector General nor The Surgeon General made any recommendation to abolish the basic course as such, but there appeared to be a definite need in administrative matters for more consideration of women's lesser physical strength, greater enlistment age, and previous sedentary occupations. The Inspector General also required the Atlanta Depot to increase the supply of clothing to Fort Oglethorpe. In April of 1944 the Army Service Forces also published detailed instructions for the fitting, alteration, and inspection of women's clothing.80

In the same month, from her new office in G-1 Division, Colonel Hobby secured the appointment of Colonel Strayhorn as commandant of Fort Oglethorpe. For the last year of the war, no further question was raised concerning the value of a military indoctrination course for women, although medical inspectors continued to point out recurring failures to recognize the limitations of women's physical capacity in fatigue details.

The Army Nurse Corps, soon after the WAAC's establishment, also accepted the value of such an indoctrination course before a Nurse Corps officer reported for professional duty, although prohibitive injury rates resulted when it was attempted to use men's obstacle courses unaltered. The Navy found that WAVES officers who were directly commissioned without a military indoctrination course were perceptibly embarrassed and handicapped. In all corps, the evident final solution was to continue military indoctrination while avoiding blind imitation of over-strenuous systems used by men.


Recruiting Liaison

A particular set of problems revolved around the always-delicate relationship of the WAC recruiting and training organizations, which were frequently at cross-purposes. Even in the earliest and least complicated days of recruiting, both commandants agreed that the WAC training centers' greatest problem-not shared by most Army schools in wartime-was its dependence upon recruiters' success.

In view of the unpredictability of intake from one week to the next, few firm schedules could be drawn up. At times training companies were activated and staffed only to sit idle, with the cadre "suffering a marked lowering of morale and efficiency." At other times too few companies were ready, resulting in the "hasty activation of units and procurement of trainer personnel from whatever source possible." 81  There was believed to be no real solution short of selective service for women, although Colonel Strayhorn attributed part of the difficulty to the ASF's "failure to furnish training centers with recruiting figures," 82  which might have been obtained through better liaison by Military Training Division with The Adjutant General's Office at the Washington level.83

Problems redoubled with the advent of the various special recruiting schemes to which the War Department was forced to resort to obtain personnel. From the viewpoint of the training centers, the ideal training situation was one in which trainees arrived without strings attached, thus leaving the centers free to determine for what job a woman would be classified and trained. Maj. Elizabeth C. Smith, of ASF Military Training Division, pointed out:

Under this plan it is obvious that the Training Commandants could not exercise their normal prerogatives of classification and training. . . The attitude of many a station-job-assignment recruit was that she could (and did) tell the Army where she was going to work and what she was going to do.84

In this respect, it was obvious that there could be no exact parallel with the classification practices of men's training centers until the latter in peacetime were also confronted with the problems of career promises to recruits. From the fall of 1943 onward, training centers were presented with a series of "named companies" such as the state companies of the All-States Campaign, the Wainwright Company, the Benito Juarez Company, and others recruited as units under various national or local projects. Some of these were of much less than company strength, and caused waste in overhead and housing in order to meet the commitment that they be trained as a group. Others were overstrength for a standard company, with consequent overcrowding of barracks and classrooms. There followed the branch recruits, who had been promised shipment to a particular branch of the service, and the station job recruits, who had been promised assignment to a specified station and job.

Training center resentment against these systems was sharp. While most recruiters' classifications were found not to be grossly inaccurate, in some cases women had not elected a job in their most essential skill, or had been led to expect further training,


which could not be provided. Training center reports added:

Some recruits expected to be exempt from kitchen police duties; to be destined for superior assignments; to be entitled to more consideration than other Wacs. Naturally this attitude quickly aroused resentment among other trainees and training center personnel. 85

Whatever the cause, the War Department soon began to receive numerous allegations that recruiting promises were being violated by training authorities. For the duration of most recruiting campaigns, inspectors were kept busy checking upon cases in which it was alleged that certificates of enlistment had been ignored or destroyed at training centers, recruits classified in unwanted duties or shipped to other than the promised station, or ridiculed for their branch or state armbands. Low morale among branch recruits was reported as so prevalent that a War Department representative was sent to investigate.86

Recruiters objected that they had received letters from their recruits to the effect that commitments were being violated and that
. . . it makes the job of recruiting an almost impossible one for those of us who are interested in the future and welfare of the women . . . especially when the responsibility lies on our shoulders for having encouraged them to join.87

Through the efforts of various inspectors, a number of cases of erroneous shipment were discovered and corrected. In some cases certificates were still in the possession of recruits, while in others papers had been lost and training centers had not sent for duplicates before disallowing claims. In most cases the numbers of such shipments were no greater than might have been attributable to error, haste, or ignorance of the significance of certificates. In some cases, women who had not been promised branch assignment had merely taken advantage of the general confusion to assert that they had.88

Colonel Strayhorn was of the opinion that training authorities in the ASF had again not co-ordinated matters fully with recruiters on the Washington level, and that there was "failure to properly advise the training center prior to the actual arrival of troops recruited under such recruitment programs of the nature of the program and of the promises made."89  Visiting War Department representatives agreed that "the Third WAC Training Center has not been informed of changes in organization and planning for WAC recruiting." 90

Air Forces Evaluation

A particular problem was posed by the presence in one installation of Air Wacs, Port Wacs, Ground Wacs, and others who arrived complete with factional spirit. Because of its relatively small size, the WAC was forced to train in one installation recruits guaranteed assignment in different branches of the Army, a situation that sel-


dom if ever confronted men's basic training centers. Training center officers remarked:

:Many recruits earmarked for AAF assignments were difficult to orient to basic military training. This was a result of a preconceived idea that training provided by the ASF was not applicable in the Air Forces.91

To deal with the problem, an approach was adopted by training centers which in turn drew objections from other commands: that of temporarily eradicating branch loyalty. Des Moines training authorities noted:

One of the primary objectives of basic training is, of course, the inculcation in the trainee of a feeling of unity and identity with the Corps . . . . The leadership of a strong Company Commander was necessary to overcome the . . . sense of separateness, of an already-developed pride in belonging to a special unit. 92

This view was not concurred in by Director Hobby, who wrote to ask Military Training Division to stress "building of pride with the unit in which the soldier serves rather than building pride in the WAC." She asked, unsuccessfully, that passages in training courses be deleted which "give the impression that the WAC is something apart from the Army.93

By mid-1944, mounting Air Forces indignation at the number of lost recruits, plus dissatisfaction with training given in Air Forces organization and nomenclature; brought the AAF to the point of requesting its own basic training center in spite of the expense. This action was averted only by the Air WAC Officer's substitute proposal for a less expensive measure: the assignment of one experienced Air Forces officer to each of the two training centers, to act as liaison. This plan was fought by the ASF upon Major Smith's recommendation, and was rejected by G-3 Division of the General Staff on the grounds that it was "wasteful of personnel."

Colonel Bandel resubmitted the papers in person, and eventually prevailed; the two officers were assigned in 1944, and were authorized to communicate directly by mail or telephone with Air Forces headquarters and its subcommands.94  They proved most successful, in the AAF's opinion, in securing speedy solution to difficulties: new recruiting appeals were coordinated, Air Forces job classification systems installed, individual misunderstandings and claims given immediate attention, and training instructors provided with recent organizational charts.

There was, however, obviously no way of arriving at an exact parallel with the practices of men's training centers, until the peacetime realignment made it possible for each branch to train its own female recruits.

Other Evaluation

Most other aspects of WAC training center operation required no comment, being identical with those of all Army installations of a similar nature. Both Colonel Strayhorn and Colonel McCoskrie shared the belief that the quality of instruction at WAC installations, as distinguished from course content, was generally superior. Trained teachers were easily found among WAC officers. A survey in


1944 showed that over 20 percent of WAC officers were former teachers, with 16 percent being principals or teachers in universities or secondary schools. These instructors were particularly successful in preparing training aids, instituting approved teaching methods, and inspiring trainee interest. An ASF inspector commented, of both officers and enlisted cadre, "I was impressed by the manner in which they conducted themselves, the prompt and courteous attention paid to superiors, and above all, the effort put forth to do a job."95

Training centers also maintained a superior record in respect to food and mess management. Meals were generally well planned and included plenty of the fruits and salads that women were found to prefer. In some months, reports showed a disposable garbage rate only half that of the Army average. Colonel McCoskrie's special pride was his establishment of a "birdseed table" of low-calorie diet, to which he directed women whose weight seemed to him to require it, regardless of their age or rank. The women, however, felt that certain Army men on the installation might profitably have received the same treatment. 96

Great effort was also expended by WAC training centers in uniform issue and shoe fitting, which commandants believed got more attention than at most Army centers. Such efforts, however, were often fruitless in view of the shortages of clothing, the lack of proper sizes, and other problems connected with the relative difficulty of standardization and shipment of women's supplies. Whenever, as was not frequent, receiving companies were able to issue women complete and well-fitting uniforms, commandants noted that women were "more receptive to training." 97

Closing of Training Centers

With the planned reduction of recruiting at the end of 1944, it was clear that one of the two remaining centers must close. Major Smith and Military Training Division favored retention of Fort Oglethorpe on the grounds of its warmer climate and greater capacity. Director Hobby preferred consolidation at Des Moines, in consideration of the needs of Negro recruits and of the superiority of the permanent brick buildings. The AAF supported this view and so, finally, did G-3 Division of the General Staff, which directed the choice of Des Moines.98

Closing of Fort Oglethorpe was delayed by the training of hospital technicians. When it eventually closed in September of 1945, Colonel Strayhorn was transferred to Fort Des Moines as training center commandant, while Colonel McCoskrie remained as post commandant. With the beginning of WAC demobilization and the cessation of WAC recruiting, Fort Des Moines likewise closed out its training activities in December of 1945. This marked the formal end of wartime WAC training, except for such scattered attendance at Army specialist schools as took place thereafter.99


LAST BASIC TRAINING INSPECTION by Colonel Strayhorn, commandant of the First WAC Training Center, and Colonel Rice, October 1945.

LAST BASIC TRAINING INSPECTION by Colonel Strayhorn, commandant of the First WAC Training Center, and Colonel Rice, October 1945.


Attendance at Army Specialist Schools

No bars were generally interposed to the attendance of Wacs at Army noncombat specialist schools on a coeducational basis, other than the limitations of available housing for women. The number of WAC students varied, from entire classes to a few individuals. In the latter case it was sometimes necessary to delay approval of a Wac's attendance until enough applications were on hand to justify use of a housing unit. Some students were sent direct from training centers to fill WAC quotas allotted by the school concerned, and others were sent by Army stations. The relatively small size of the Corps, and the fact that many women already possessed civilian skills or were given specialist training in WAC training centers, prevented coeducational specialist training from reaching any considerable proportions, although obviously the program would have ceased to be a minor one had it been necessary to fit a million women into the Army scheme, or to accept untrained younger women.

WAAC and WAC officers also attended the Army's Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, 100  The Adjutant General's School, Ordnance School, Quartermaster School, Cooks and Bakers School, the Chemical Warfare School, and many others.101  In most such cases, women proved able to take the full course successfully. Instructors at the Chemical Warfare School reported, "We pulled no punches," as Waacs went through the obstacle course, complete with tear gas, mustard gas, and exploding booby traps.102  In addition, faculties noted with approval a certain increased industry among competitive-minded male students.

The only apparent defect in the informal and flexible assignment system was a lack of knowledge in the field as to how it operated. Recruiters, personnel officers, and individual women vainly wrote to training authorities for "a list of [specialist] schools, their mission, scope, prerequisites, and classification of successful graduates."103  At the time of the conversion, WAAC Headquarters had begun preparation of a list, but the project was never completed. By the time that Military Training Division assumed authority, such a list would have been difficult to compile, in view of the wide decentralization of power to authorize attendance.

Not only were WAC quotas for specialist schools set up by Air, Ground, and Service Forces headquarters, but many Army stations made the proper arrangements with training commands at a lower level. Thus, it was frequently discovered that several Wacs were attending a class for aircraft mechanics, or other specialists, without any record of the fact in headquarters.

For this reason, and because the ASF disapproved of separate studies for women, no over-all report was ever made by Military Training Division as to which Army specialist schools Wacs had attended, in what numbers, and with what success.104


Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP)

There was, at different times, some consideration of allowing women to attend not only Army specialist schools but the civilian colleges that were concurrently training enlisted men under the Army Specialized Training Program. Soon after the Medical Department received authority to commission women doctors, The Surgeon General recommended that women be included in the ASTP, whereby young men were being sent to medical school at Army expense. He proposed that women medical students with two years of training be enlisted in the WAC for completion of a medical education of eighteen months, followed by a commission in the Medical Corps. This, he said, would assure a supply of women doctors for the Army, and would encourage women already doctors to serve with the Army, since "it will eliminate much of the prejudice . . . which is currently a large factor in their reluctance to enter the Army Medical Corps."105  This proposal was rejected by Military Training Division, ASF, on the grounds that it would reduce the number of men who could be given medical training, and that women did not need the aid, as they could not be drafted and thus their medical studies could not be interrupted.

In the following year, when the ASTP for men was drastically cut during the manpower shortage of early 1944, bereft college authorities turned with some hope toward the WAC to fill the vacancies. At this time Military Training Division reversed its earlier stand, and proposed that 19-year-olds be enlisted in the WAC and given a year of college training at Army expense, which would include medical, communications, dietetic, statistical, or other work.

Many considerations caused the proposal to be unanimously rejected by the Director WAC, the Army Service Forces, and the War Department. Legislation would have been required to enlist women under 20, involving delay and possibly difficulties with Congress. Since there was no draft of women, it could not be said that the Army was drying up the source of college material and of future women scientists. Most girls of 19 would have been past college entrance age, yet to lower the entrance age to 17 or 18, with two or three years of training, would have been unjustifiably expensive and of little value in the current war. Furthermore, the WAC already had some 6,000 enlisted college graduates and some 10,000 more with partial college training, very few of whom were being used to fill assignments that required such training. For these reasons, no Wacs were ever sent to school under the ASTP.106

Continuation Training in the Field

The War Department had for some time accepted the principle that "continuous refresher training" was necessary for male troops not engaged in actual combat; such troops were excused from their duties for several hours of training each week so that a review of basic training was accom-


plished every six months.107  In the early days of the WAAC, no decision was made about such "continuation training" for Waacs after they left the training center. Director Hobby proposed a directive placing responsibility for instruction on the WAAC company commanders, but General Faith decided that no special directives for women were necessary, upon "the assumption . . . that local commanders would discharge their command responsibility for the training of WAAC personnel." As a result, no directive was issued until just before the establishment of the WAC, when General Faith's inspectors discovered that "almost without exception no provision was being made for WAAC unit training," because of "confusion in the minds of station commanders" and "the inexperience of WAAC unit commanders." 108

General Faith at once issued a directive on the subject, Mobilization Training Program 35-1. Since there was as yet very little knowledge of women's actual training needs in the field, it was merely provided that WAC units would spend not less than three hours a week, and not more than four, in a repetition of basic training, including drill, physical training, military courtesy, and hygiene. The directive also contained authority for station commanders, at their discretion, to substitute on-the-job training for part of these hours, or professional courses such as typing and shorthand.109

This directive was revised somewhat by Military Training Division when it took over WAC training, chiefly by adding map reading and by omitting the authority for station commanders to substitute on-the-job training, typing, or professional courses. The physical training period was also changed from 1 t/4 hours once a week to 15 minutes a day, since experts believed daily exercise more beneficial. The Air and Ground Forces delegated to the Service Forces the right to prescribe this training for WAC units world-wide, believing at the time that unsisterly dissension would result if Wacs on neighboring stations or combined installations were required to take different types and amounts of training. The ASF's revised version at first occasioned little comment when published in a directive entitled Mobilization Training Program for WAC Detachments in the Field, familiarly known as MTP 35-2. This repetition of basic training every six months was, it was stated, expected to maintain "efficient job performance . . . military discipline, and physical fitness." 110

Opposition of Personnel Officers

Within six months of the date of publication, this directive was under fire from Army section chiefs, station and company commanders, and personnel officers. The heart of the opposition was the question of whether, for permanent-type noncombat troops, the repetition of basic subjects every six months had enough value to compensate for time lost from other duties, or in fact had any value at all. Although the minimum requirement of 3 to 4 hours a week appeared small, it in fact added up to two working days a month, or 24 working days a year. From the section chiefs viewpoint, such loss was the equivalent of giving all Wacs a furlough for one month of the twelve, or of shipping them all back


to the training center for another four weeks' basic course each year.

WAC staff directors believed that enlisted women felt the impact of this problem more keenly than the average men's unit, for several reasons. Of these, one obvious difficulty was that women were more permanent employees than men; 85 percent of Wacs never went overseas, and therefore heard the same course in defense against chemical attack given by the same company officers, not once or twice, but four, five, and six times during the course of the war. Such prolonged repetition in time provoked insufferable boredom among the victims. The ASF WAC Officer, Colonel Goodwin, reported later:

One of the deterrents to morale among enlisted women in the field has been a constant repetition of such basic military subjects as Defense Against Chemical Attack, and Map and Aerial Photograph Reading, which in no way contribute to the efficiency of women on the job.111

A more important factor was the nature of women's work, as distinguished from that of the average men's unit. All Army personnel were required to be excused from their duties for the weekly training '.wherever practicable," but the majority of women, unlike the majority of men, were in clerical or other office work from which they could seldom be released. As the war situation grew worse and combat fit men were transferred away from offices, Wacs came to hold many key office jobs which required constant attendance plus night and Sunday work. 112

As a result of the opposition of section chiefs, almost no cases were reported in which a WAC company was allowed to conduct its training during duty hours. To long hours of office work were already added duties from which civilian women employees were exempt: barracks fatigue, kitchen police, parades, and ceremonies. The addition of four hours of weekly training on off-duty time therefore posed a serious problem for enlisted women, since it occupied from two to four nights a week of supposed "recreation" time.

The Air WAC Officer, Colonel Bandel, noted
Commands had placed women on key clerical assignments, would not release them for training during the day, and yet expected them to take three or four hours of training weekly. The result was that women were working, training, or doing housekeeping from early morning until late at night.113

Even overseas, this difference was noted. In the European theater's great training programs prior to D Day, men and nurses took the training during duty hours, but Wacs, because of the pressure of office work, were obliged to take it in their off duty time, a fact that some Army doctors blamed for the higher sick rate among Wacs at this time.114

The difficulty of scheduling required courses was further increased for women by the fact that most WAC units were not homogeneous, as men's often were, but contained workers of every type employed in different offices on different hours and shifts. Thus, company officers and cadre were obliged to repeat each course several nights a week to catch all members off duty.

An additional objection from station commanders was that the program made it difficult to find time for more urgently needed practical courses. Many stations


and Army commands followed a consistent program of upgrading both military and civilian workers by providing free off-duty training in typing, communications, and medical skills, or whatever was needed in the local situation. The staff directors of every service command informed Colonel Goodwin that "Training Directors of Service Commands and Technical Services often superimpose additional training requirements over those of MTP 35-2.115  The Air Forces noted the same problem, but the weekly four-hour program of map reading and other courses was already so heavy that it was necessary for Air Forces Headquarters to forbid more practical training.116

Physical Training, for Field Units

The most unpopular of the required subjects was the course of muscle-building calisthenics, identical with that used in the training center. From the beginning, training inspectors had noted a certain laxity concerning this requirement. Units in double-decked barracks ordinarily had no indoor room for active exercise, since it was impossible for members to bend, fling arms and legs, or lie on the floor without hitting the beds, coal stoves, or each other. Outdoor training, even if weather permitted it, was hampered by the usual lack of nearby areas large enough and smooth enough for the prescribed exercises. Company commanders had sometimes solved the problem by securing permission to use some large post recreational hall or area, where the company was assembled once a week for an hour of miscellaneous games or exercises, but this system could not be used when the requirement was changed by Military Training Division to 15 minutes a day instead of 1'/h hours a week. Commanders soon protested that it was impossible to secure a suitable area and assemble the company five time a week. The time consumed in donning proper clothing and marching back and forth to the area was often nearer to an hour a day than to 15 minutes.117

WAC staff directors of Air, Ground, and Service Forces, after a conference, therefore appealed to Military Training Division to remit the daily requirement because of "the administrative difficulty involved in scheduling and operation.'' 118  However; ASC's physical training experts refused, saying, "There was no evidence that the training as required was not expedient from the point of view of the purpose of physical training.''119  This, being translated, meant that 15 minutes of daily exercise was considered important enough to merit further efforts to overcome administrative difficulties. Unfortunately, the eventual solution arrived at by most WAC companies was, before dressing for reveille, to spend 15 minutes in such exercises as could be taken in double-decked bunks without awakening shift workers sleeping in neighboring beds. These, although duly entered on company records, were often invisible to the naked eye of the inspector.

Therefore, to enforce more active exercise, Military Training Division proposed a program not used by men: that WAC field units be required to administer a physical fitness rating test every three months, the rating to consist of scores made on four exercises requiring considerable strength, which were currently taught at training centers. These four were known,


respectively, as the "dip." the "sit-up," the "wing-lift," and the "squat thrust." WAC advocates of these exercises pointed out that these four taken together would develop muscular strength in every part of the body, which random sports and recreation would never do. Skeptics, on the other hand, noted that the exercises were quite similar to exercises for men, and questioned whether women's efficiency in any capacity would be improved by giving them broad shoulders, narrow hips, and muscular arms and legs, which the exercises undeniably aimed for.

To make the required score of Good, a woman was expected to perform all four exercises in succession with a speed dependent on her age. For a woman of 50, from 3 to 8 full dips first had to be made without pause, with the body supported on hands and toes and lowered by bending the elbows until the chin touched the floor and then returned to position. Second, from 28 to 48 sit-ups had to be performed, also without pause, with the body brought from a lying to a sitting position without the use of the hands. Third was the wing-lift, in which the body was face down with the hands clasped behind the neck, and the upper part of the body then raised until the breast left the floor; a woman of 50 was required to do from 69 to 85 of these lifts in one minute. Last was the squat thrust, in which the subject squatted, thrust the legs out behind until the body was straight and rested on hands and toes, returned to a squat, and then to a straight-knee stand; a woman of 50 was required to do from 15 to 18 such thrusts in 30 seconds. For a younger woman, the required scores on all four tests were considerably higher.120

Colonel Hobby immediately objected to this test when it was proposed. She informed Military Training Division:
This office is not in agreement with the principles of the proposed Training Circular "WAC Physical Fitness Rating.'" This disagreement is not based on any expert knowledge of physical training, but on the opinion that, from the point of view of the welfare of the enlisted women, such a system is not appropriate or suitable for women in the field.
The basic mission of the Women's Army Corps is to accomplish given military jobs. Physical training in the field should be held to the minimum necessary for a woman to keep fit to perform her assigned duties, most of which are not strenuous.121

Colonel Hobby privately remarked to her staff, "Are they trying to make Amazons of our women?" 122

In spite of this opposition, ASF training authorities refused to make the physical fitness rating less strenuous. Captain Niles of The Surgeon General's Office, the physical training expert who had devised the exercises, wrote, "It is essential that the organic vigor of WAC personnel in the field be improved." The medical consultant, Major Craighill, likewise favored the exercises as a means of offsetting sedentary work. Finally Major Smith secured Colonel Hobby's approval on the grounds that the test merely provided the field a convenient way of measuring exercises already taught in training centers and illustrated in the WAC Physical Training Manual, and would not be competitive.123

Upon publication, however, the directive stated that the test was not optional but "will be administered once every 3


months," and that women of all ages would be excused only by authority of an orthopedic surgeon. 124  Protests at once arose in the field. Enlisted men had no such test, which appeared to Army commands to be an unnecessary burden for women. The AAF reported with alarm that their first woman to try the test, although herself a young physical training teacher, was hospitalized for a week with a strained back.125  Most women alleged that, although always perfectly healthy, they could not perform the exercises at all.126  Some alleged that only those women with the build of a man would ever be able to do them correctly, since most women's bone and muscle structure was unsuitable for successful performance, particularly in required shoulder width and narrowness of hips.

Captain Niles, on the other hand, believed that the unpopularity of the tests was due to lack of knowledge on the part of supervisory officers, and asked that traveling WAC teams be sent to major commands to demonstrate. This was done, but a year later the program still remained very unpopular. One Air Forces command, after carrying on what it called "a vigorous program," discovered no improvement in women's scores, with most still below "average," and concluded that the test did not measure real physical fitness for women.

WAC company commanders, when polled, were found to be 95 percent opposed to the whole physical training program. So-called physical fitness as measured by this means often, according to their observation, actually had a negative correlation with job efficiency. Instead, the almost unanimous demand of Wacs in the field was for permission to replace the muscle-building calisthenics with some relaxing form of group or individual sports suitable for women, such as bowling, hiking, or swimming.127

All such field protests were not effective; Military Training Division refused to alter the requirement. Major Smith replied to advocates of a recreation hour:
We have to recognize the difference between planned training and a morale-building program for recreation .... Play loses its value if forced. Therefore the point of substituting recreation for planned exercises is not valid. 128

Personnel vs. Training Needs

The entire issue of continuation training was finally forced, just before V -E Day, by a concerted campaign of personnel advisers in all major Army commands. As early as April of 1944 Colonel Hobby informed Military Training Division, "The time of the enlisted women in the field is ordinarily so valuable that none should be devoted to unnecessary training activities." 129  In February of 1945, as hospitals and personnel centers braced themselves for record loads, a meeting of all Air, Ground, and Service Forces WAC staff directors re-


ported the unanimous opinion of their commands: that authority must be decentralized to them to determine their own continuation training needs. ASF's report to this effect was prepared by Colonel Goodwin and forwarded by General Dalton of Military Personnel Division, who stated, "Because enlisted women are working longer hours and harder than at any time since the Corps was established, it is felt that consideration should be given to reducing the number of training hours required.130  AAF's objections were even more strenuous, since that command had now abandoned any continuation training program for its men, and saw no reason for special requirements for women in a time of great manpower shortage.131

All such requests for modification were consistently refused by Military Training Division, with the statement that continuation training could not safely be decentralized to the station commander, since the resulting programs would not be uniform and thus would not produce an identical Army-wide state of training. In rejecting the recommendations, Military Training Division pointed out that the opinion of personnel officers could not be considered formal complaints until approved by directors of training in subordinate commands and submitted to headquarters through channels.132

General Dalton replied:
Admittedly not all the Staff Directors are training specialists, but . . . post commanders, section chiefs, and hospital commanders complain to them of the difficulties in carrying out the present training program.133

He suggested that Brig. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau verify their comments by inviting the formal opinions of the service commands and technical services. This, the Director of Training, ASF, refused to do.134

In any case, the comments were inapplicable to the Army Air Forces. Colonel Bandel had opposed an earlier break with the ASF because she preferred to use the powerful lever of AAF opposition to force Army-wide reforms, rather than to rescue Air Wacs alone. After the failure of Colonel Goodwin's efforts in March, Colonel Bandel made a final attempt to prevent a division by requesting a conference of Air, Ground, and Service Forces officers with a representative of the War Department's G-3 Division. At this conference the AAF's argument was supported by the AGF and by the ASF WAC Officer "in view of pressing work demands on assigned personnel."

Military Training Division again refused to consider this recommendation on the grounds that:
'This opinion was based on administrative and morale problems evolving from the field approach to the training requirement. It did not represent an evaluation of the ability of the training program to accomplish its stated purpose.

Therefore, Military Training Division still refused to modify the program in any command.135

At this, the Air Forces recommended that continuation training of AAF Wacs be made a responsibility solely of the AAF, in line with the system for men's training.


This recommendation received Colonel Hobby's concurrence and was approved by G-3 Division of the War Department for both the AAF and the AGF, becoming effective 15 July 1945, a few weeks before the end of the war. The requirement for a physical fitness rating test was also suspended about the same time by separate action.136

The Air Forces immediately published a simplified continuation training program for Air Wacs, in which only two hours weekly were required. One of these was the orientation hour directed by the War Department for all Army men and women. This offered no problem since it was not repetitive, was given during duty hours, and was ordinarily prepared by a specialist for presentation to both men and women of an entire station. The second hour was one of "exercise and sports,"' with time, place, and type to be determined by the station concerned. All other subjects were to be conducted only when believed necessary by local commanders, and in no case could exceed one additional hour weekly. One day later, the Army Ground Forces published an identically worded continuation training program for its Wacs.137

Military Training Division prepared for ASF Wacs a continuation training program that was virtually unmodified. Military Personnel Division at once objected to publication of this program, since the expanding mission of the Service Forces after V -E Day had placed even greater loads on ports, hospitals, and separation centers. Military Training Division again refused to consider this recommendation, and unsuccessfully attempted to revise the ASF WAC Officer's assigned duty of advising General Somervell on the WAC program to that of advising him on the WAC program except for WAC training. At this, General Dalton appealed to the Chief of Staff, Army Service Forces, to override its Training Division on the whole matter. Both Control Division, ASF, and the Chief of Staff, ASF, approved General Dalton's appeal, and directed Military Training Division to publish an easier program like that of the Army Air Forces and Army Ground Forces.138

The program was published as directed. Only three months later, Military Training Division's policies met an even greater setback when the pressure of work forced the ASF to remove all requirements for continuation training of all operating personnel, both male and female. Since the AAF and AGF already had no such requirement, the theory that routine continuation training was practicable in time of emergency was generally discarded. It was subsequently made clear by Major Smith that Military Training Division had not altered its opinion as to the ideal course content when time permitted. Since the objections of most Army station commanders had chiefly concerned the loss of work time and efficiency in an emergency, it appeared that there would be less active opposition to repetition of basic courses in peacetime when personnel became plentiful.139


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